Nonconference Slate Unveiled for Bronco Soccer
July 14, 2014
BOISE, Idaho - Boise State women's soccer announced its 2014 nonconference schedule Friday, which features nine games including a pair of home contests against regional rivals. The season kicks off Aug. 22, against Drake at the PSU Tournament in Portland, Ore. The home opener is Sept. 7, against Idaho State.
Four of the nine games will be against schools which compiled at least 10 wins last season and all ranked in the top 100 of the RPI at year's end.
Boise State begins the season at the PSU Tournament in Portland, Ore., taking on Drake (Aug. 22) and tournament-host Portland State (Aug. 24). It marks the first all-time meeting against Drake, and the fifth time in six years the Broncos will play at Portland State.
"Portland State won the Big Sky last year and lost in their conference tournament final, so they have a similar background to us. They did well in the conference tournament and we expect them to play well against us," said head coach Jim Thomas. "Drake will be much improved. This will be their opening game and they will be pumped up."
The early-season road swing continues in the Beehive State with road matches at Utah (Aug. 29) and Utah Valley (Aug. 31). The Utes advanced to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, thanks in large part to an unblemished mark at home. The Wolverines won nine games a year ago.
"We start off on the road this year and we are getting our traveling feet wet," Thomas said of the early road matches away from home. "We'll head to Utah where we will see our first Pac-12 opponent in Utah. They came third in the Pac-12 last year and they should be much improved. We expect to see a top-25 caliber team. This is an opportunity for us to test ourselves against an elite team in the nation and see where we will be at in the pecking order. They play a fun style of soccer and we will play them at night under the lights. Utah Valley will be similar to Drake. They came off a difficult schedule last season. Those kinds of teams are dangerous as they are trying to rectify the past season and come out strong this season."
Boise State's fifth-straight road game to start the season will be at Idaho and begin a weekend of in-state rivalry games. The Broncos face the Vandals Sept. 5, in their first trip to Moscow since the WAC Championship season of 2009. The two schools have not faced each other in soccer since 2010, after which Boise State joined the Mountain West. The weekend ends with the Broncos opening their home schedule against Idaho State. Boise State will look to avenge last year's season-opening overtime loss in Pocatello.
"This is a split weekend, where we will drive up to Idaho to play the Vandals then come back to play another in-state neighbor Idaho State," Thomas said. "Idaho has vastly improved; they have a new coach from Gonzaga and have dangerous players that will be very motivated this year. Last year's record isn't indicative of how good they were. This will be a dangerous team this year. Idaho State is one we've marked on our calendar. We've played them a number of times on the road and they're physically oriented. It will be a great spectacle for our fans to see. This is going to be one of the most motivating games as they've had the best of us over the last couple of meetings. It's going to be fun to see our ladies come out against that."
The Broncos remain at home for the next contest, a Monday meeting with Gonzaga (Sept. 15). Boise State is 2-6 all-time against the Bulldogs, with the wins coming in 2000 and 2009.
"Gonzaga is going to be an interesting team to play against as well," Thomas said. "They are coming off of seven wins and looking to rebuild. That's dangerous because those athletes are motivated and are looking to overcome last year's record. They recruit from a strong pool of players in Washington. Gonzaga should have a great season and we look for the opportunity to take on an opponent with a strong RPI."
The match with the Bulldogs starts a stretch of three games in seven days to wrap up the nonconference schedule. The last two will be on the road at Pepperdine (Sept. 19) and UC Irvine (Sept. 21). Both schools finished last year with at least 10 wins and were in the top 85 of the RPI.
"Scott Juniper is at Irvine and he is an incredible coach with a great attacking mind. They have a similar attacking style of play to ours, so this game could go many different ways," Thomas said. "It could be scoreless or it could go 4-3, hopefully in our favor. Pepperdine plays a very fluid, technical style of soccer and it will be a great end to our non-conference portion of our schedule as we move into the heart and passion, blood and guts of Mountain West Conference play."
The nine nonconference games come in addition to an 11-game Mountain West slate. The Broncos' MW schedule was released last month. Boise State is coming off of a 13-7-3 campaign in 2013, which included a 6-3-1 mark in conference play. The Broncos advanced to the title match of the Mountain West Championship.
The 2014 schedule features three opponents who return from last year's NCAA Tournament and six which finished the season in the top 100 of the RPI.
The 20 regular-season games are a lead up to the Mountain West Championship at the end of the season in San Diego. The top six teams in the conference will qualify for the tournament which determines the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
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